Why behavioral economics shouldn’t be the only tool in the toolbox

Behavioral economics has given us a lot of insights into how we can influence our own and other’s behavior. But the approach has some serious limitations, especially when applied to promoting health behaviors.

Joining me on the podcast is Michelle Segar, a frequent guest here on the Change Academy. Michelle is an NIH-funded researcher at the University of Michigan. She’s also a best-selling author and health coach whose work focuses on fostering behavior change that can survive the complexity and unpredictability of the real world. 


  1. Take some time on a regular basis to reflect on how your personal values, beliefs, and motivations align with your desired behavioral changes (and vice versa!)
  2. Acknowledge emotional and psychological issues that may present barriers to change. Consider seeking support from a mental health professional, especially if you face challenges like depression, anxiety, or past trauma.
  3. Take a look at your social and physical environment and think about how these factors impact your behavior. Consider where you might find supportive communities or how altering your environment might encourage positive habits.
  4. Consider getting involved with community initiatives or advocacy groups that are working to address broader societal issues that impact our ability to choose healthier behaviors.  For example, groups advocating to make our cities and neighborhoods more walkable or bike-friendly, or organizing mobile farmer’s markets, or upgrading local recreational facilities.  


They Thought We Were Ridiculous (5-part series on the history of Behavioral Economics)

Better habits aren’t the answer?   (Change Academy Ep #111, with Michelle Segar)

No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness, by Michelle Segar

The Joy Choice: How to Finally Achieve Lasting Changes in Eating and Exercise, by Michelle 

Certification program for health coaches